Post-traumatic brain hypothermia reduces histopathological damage following concussive brain injury in the rat

W. Dalton Dietrich, Ofelia Alonso, Raul Busto, Mordecai Y.T. Globus, Myron D. Ginsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


The purposes of this study were (1) to document the histopathological consequences of moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) in anesthetized Sprague-Dawley rats, and (2) to determine whether posttraumatic brain hypothermia (30°C) would protect histopathologically. Twenty-four hours prior to TBI, the fluid percussion interface was positioned over the right cerebral cortex. On the 2nd day, fasted rats were anesthetized with 70% nitrous oxide, 1% halothane, and 30% oxygen. Under controlled physiological conditions and normothermic brain temperature (37.5°C), rats were injured with a fluid percussion pulse ranging from 1.7 to 2.2 atmospheres. In one group, brain temperature was maintained at normothermic levels for 3 h after injury. In a second group, brain temperature was reduced to 30°C at 5 min post-trauma and maintained for 3 h. Three days after TBI, brains were perfusion-fixed for routine histopathological analysis. In the normothermic group, damage at the site of impact was seen in only one of nine rats. In contrast, all normothermic animals displayed necrotic neurons within ipsilateral cortical regions lateral and remote from the impact site. Intracerebral hemorrhagic contusions were present in all rats at the gray-white interface underlying the injured cortical areas. Selective neuronal necrosis was also present within the CA3 and CA4 hippocampal subsectors and thalamus. Post-traumatic brain hypothermia significantly reduced the overall sum of necrotic cortical neurons (519±122 vs 952±130, mean ±SE, P=0.03, Kruskal-Wallis test) as well as contusion volume (0.50±0.14 vs 2.14±0.71 mm3, P=0.004). These data document a consistent pattern of histopathological vulnerability following normothermic TBI and demonstrate hypothermic protection in the post-traumatic setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-258
Number of pages9
JournalActa neuropathologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994


  • Contusion
  • Fluid percussion
  • Hypothermia Histopathology
  • Rat
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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